Spain takes action against large-scale whiskey fraud

Authorities in Spain have uncovered what they say could be one of the largest criminal networks for the production and illegal distribution of whiskey.

Operation Fuco was set up by Spain’s Guardia Civil and the national tax agency earlier this year to disrupt the trade, and resulted in the seizure of more than €800,000-worth of counterfeit liquor damaging the brand owner to the tune of around €4m, according to a Food Safety News report.

The haul also included nearly 300,000 whiskey bottles, 171,200 fake tax stamps, 18,400 caps and more than 27,000 cardboard boxes bearing the logo of a well-known brand.

The criminal network is believed to have operated across Spain, but had hubs in La Rioja, Jaen, and Campo de Criptana in Ciudad Real. It is reported that the network made use of a legitimate company involved in the bottling and distribution of alcoholic drinks based in La Rioja.

The Ciudad Real operation was headed by a man who has been accused of sourcing the fake labels and tax stamps, bottles and caps from Asia. The La Rioja business bottled the whiskey, which was then transferred to the Ciudad Real business to be labelled up ready for sale – possibly to retailers in southern Spain, according to prosecutors.

14 people between aged between 37 and 52 have been arrested in connection with the incident.

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